Henry Ford II introduces this film designed to encourage private citizens to unite and support road improvement. Part of the lobbying campaign that culminated in legislation authorizing the Interstate Highway system in 1956, this film shows community efforts to improve and increase safety on the Bayshore Highway in the San Francisco Bay Area; congestion in Pittsburgh and the Golden Triangle redevelopment area; the economic benefits of Boston's circumferential highway, Route 128; and safety education in St. Joseph, Missouri. Narrator: Westbrook van Voorhis.
Reviewer:Christine Hennig -
August 12, 2004 Subject:
To Create a Society Dominated by the Automobile
This 50s film, sponsored by Ford, emphasizes the need for better highways so that Americans can go places lots faster and the landscape can be further dominated by the automobile. How better highways were built in four different parts of the country is shown. It mostly involves the grass-roots efforts of ordinary citizens, yet the sponsored nature of the film makes you wonder how grass-roots these efforts really were. All changes that result from bigger and faster highways are shown to be beneficial in all ways. The campiest part of the film is the last segment, which shows the citizens of St. Joseph, Missouri taking a safety campaign to near mind-control proportions. Jaywalkers are photographed by Âconcerned citizensÂ and handed leaflets telling them how wrong they are. Of course, cars are never dangerous, only drivers. This is a prime example of the sponsored Âpublic serviceÂ film that really exists to serve corporate agendas.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****.
In this grand expose of why the roadways of America are in need of repair, RIGHT NOW! Henry Frd II sweatily introduces us to the film, Ford, who BADLY reads from cue cards, introduces us to the real star of the show, "the traffic safety and highway improvement reporter" Wesbrook Van Vorheen (????), a man who's face and body clearly doesnt match the voice. In his deep basso nova voice. 4 "actual" scenarios are reported on, each seemingly more duller then the first. The first report, about the mayhem and carnage on the Palo Alto Bayshore highway, is clearly the most interesting. Shots of plenty' o banged up cars are shown, a letter from the governor is written, and soon, the community springs into action, with petitions being signed, speed limits being brought down (from 45 to 35!) and even, in a CLASSIC moment, a declaration of a "Bloody Bayshore Day: (The mind reels..) Soon after, the road gets so safe, as the newspaper editor says in classic double-speak the death and injury rate in sixty days "dropped from 67 to 38". What this means is anybody's guess. The rest of the scenarios, about various other safety measures in cities and towns, aren't as interesting as the first segment, which clearly is demented. Check it out.
This new film is designed to act as the starting gun on a new campaign for better roads sponsored by the Ford Motor Company.
As introduced in the film by Henry Ford II, the campaign intends to show that, although full credit can be given to governmental traffic experts for their efforts and skill in planning and engineering new improved highways, a most important role in getting better roads is being played by private citizens getting together to demand road improvement.
For example, the film visits the former site of "Bloody Bayshore," south of San Francisco, one of the most dangerous roads in the country until private citizens, spurred on by the Palo Alto Times and other local papers, set a campaign in motion that reached top governmental levels and resulted in a new freeway that now provides good, efficient and safe access to the city.
Pittsburgh, hemmed in by the converging Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers, was stifling in road congestion that cost the city millions of dollars annually. Ten years ago, it was a nightmare; today, the "Golden Triangle" of Pittsburgh, with adequate and scientifically designed roads and parking facilities, is one of the nation's best examples of the civic advantage of good roads. In Pittsburgh's instance, private citizens, local business and such industrial firms as Gulf Oil and H.J. Heinz took the lead in public demand for improvement.
Another example cited is Boston's new "Golden Semi-Circle" -- Route 128 -- which not only provides good access to downtown Boston for the sprawling 2-1/2 million population in the metropolitan area, but has attracted dozens of new industries along the route.
The film shows North Carolina's excellent new county roads that have revolutionized the life of rural people with good new central schools, shopping centers and cultural centers.
Besides taking a big part in improving good roads, private citizens can be vastly important in campaigns to achieve safe driving habits in the community. St. Joseph, Missouri, for instance, where "they never let you forget safety," and where accident statistics are as low as anywhere in the country. [Business Screen 17:2, 1956]
Ford Motor Company Roads Highways Transportation Automobiles Ambulances Accidents Traffic jams Bayshore Highway (California) (1950s) Palo Alto, California (1950s) San Francisco Bay Area, California (1950s) Radio operators Newspapers Editors Newspapers (editors) Newspapers (printing presses) Printing presses Reading Telephones Lips (moving) Conversations Telephones (conversations) Police cars Traffic lights Roadblocks California Highway Patrol Signs Traffic stops Petitions Freeways California Pittsburgh, Pa. (1950s) Aerials Pittsburgh, Pa. (aerials) Cities Wrecking balls Demolition Cranes Welding Sparks Buildings (construction) Workers (ironworkers) Parking lots (underground) Expressways Boston, Mass. (maps) Pittsburgh, Pa. (maps) Houses and homes (suburban) Suburbia Route 128, Mass. (1950s) Residential development Shopping centers Parking lots Political activities North Carolina Families Breakfast (families) School buses Roads (Macadam) Farm markets Home economics Sewing machines Teenagers Girls Students (1950s) Schools (1950s) Stores (Piggly Wiggly) Supermarkets Piggly Wiggly supermarkets Stores (food) Football (spectators) Basketball (spectators) Sports (spectators) Spectators (sports) Art galleries Trucks (Pick-up trucks) St. Joseph, N.C. Main Streets Television studios Television commercials (production) Television (production) Safety Patrol Courtrooms Driver training High schools (1950s) Safety education Jaywalking Surveillance Signs (safety) Safety (signage) Motorcycles (police) Police (motorcycle police) Pedestrians